Accidentally On Purpose: Time To Abort
ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE: Thursday 24th June, E4, 10pm ALERT ME
I’ll confess I had a soft spot for Dharma And Greg even though it was arguably the worst kind of predictable sitcom trash. But even though the jokes may as well have been written in gigantic neon, 50ft lights and the plot was thinner than Ashley Olsen’s ankles, it possessed to me a strange, hypnotic quality. Perhaps because it was always on in the afternoon where my critical faculties hadn’t started up yet and natural cynical defence network was still warming up.
Accidentally On Purpose is like Dharma And Greg but with a pregnant Dharma and without the latter’s mysterious charm. Jenna Elfman stars as Billie, a mid 30s journalist dumped by her boyfriend who won’t commit. In order to get over this, she has a one night stand with twenty-something Zack, only to find out later that he’s put a bun in her oven.
She decides to keep the potential sprog because she’s scared of her approaching menopause (definitely the best reason to have a kid, along with “If I need an organ transplant in the future, it might come in handy). Zack agrees to help her raise the child and enthusiastically moves in but shockingly, his friends are a bunch of freeloading layabouts.
Throwing people from different worlds together is one of the oldest tricks in the book (The Odd Couple, The Nanny, The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air every buddy movie ever made) and here the results are as predictable as you’d expect, complete with horrible canned laughter and characters out of Sitcoms For Dummies Volume 1 – horny best friend (a completely wasted Ashley Jensen), a klutzy sister and a lazy workshy roommate.
There’s nothing clever or original about the script – lazy jokes (in this episode Zack manages to tan his penis in a self-love accident which prevents him from hooking up with Billie) and horrific reaction shots which should be banned from all future sitcoms. If it’s funny, we’ll laugh – there’s no need to draw a big red circle around where the laughs are supposed to go and hoping for the best.
Jon Foster as Zack is completely forgettable – you could replace him with a strip of wallpaper and no one would notice and even the usually likable Elfman starts to grate by the end of the show – there’s something about her voice which is unbearably shrill.
It’s difficult to see how Accidentally On Purpose was even commissioned (CBS’s mistake was short lived as it’s now been cancelled). It’s not that it’s utterly appalling (The unrivalled king of the sitcom scrap heap is still BBC’s Big Top), and it does raise a few occasional laughs but despite its pregnancy gimmick, it’s way too generic to have any kind of impact. I blame the parents.